Pass the eggnog — the gingerbread latte of change is brewing at D’Amico Coffee in Carroll Gardens.
After 50 years of roasting Brooklyn’s strongest, straightest brew, Court Street’s most venerable coffee-making institution may take a hint from Starbucks and break out its own gingerbread-flavor coffee, indicating just how soft this once-hardscrabble neighborhood has become.
“You’d be surprised at how many people drink decaf too. Lots of pregnant woman,” said Joan D’Amico, the daughter-in-law who holds down the third-generation roaster and shop.
The news was broken to me just days before Thanksgiving, the de facto opening day of the season of senseless indulgence and overly sweet java-eggnog concoctions.
D’Amico seemed to me a likely respite from the sugar and spice being churned out by the Santas at Starbucks. In fact, that’s why I sought out D’Amico’s in the first place. I wanted to find a place free from all this fake holiday cheer.
Honestly, I expected a laugh when I asked about the chances of a gingerbread brew, a syrupy, band-aid-colored Starbucks’ classic. I mean, we are talking about a coffee shop run by a woman who tattooed herself and her husband, jailhouse gang-style, with matching coffee beans.
Plus, the gray-haired neighborhood patriarchs crowding the shop’s homey interior were sipping black coffees out of plain paper cups and arguing about all-season issues like ugly condo towers.
“I prefer simple,” said Antonio Ceriello, a native of Naples who moved to Carroll Gardens 16 years ago and has enjoyed two D’Amico espressos nearly every day since. The only hint of the impending season was an unusually aromatic roaster, humming with orders for gift packs. Then D’Amico spoke.
It wouldn’t be too late to add the flavor to the menu, she said, tapping a long, painted nail against a brown paper bag of coffee beans.
“Gingerbread flavor probably would be nice, now that you mention it,” she told me.
Perhaps it’s inevitable. I chatted up some of the regulars at D’Amico’s and learned that even retired union roughnecks enjoy flavored coffees — even the banana cream blend they serve nearby at Mazzola’s.
“It’s like banana cream pie with a kick,” said Jerry Maresca, a Carroll Gardens native. He said he looks forward to trying more cake-flavored coffees.
“Sugar doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I already lost all my teeth.”
Ariella Cohen is a freelance writer.
The Kitchen Sink
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